Syria war: Key Aleppo rebel area captured by forces

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Syrian soldiers seized the area of Masaken Hanano at the weekend

Syrian government forces have captured a key part of eastern Aleppo, splitting rebel-held territory.

Both state TV and the monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that the district of Sakhour had fallen to the Syrian army.

The Syrian army and their allies launched a major offensive to retake control of Aleppo in September.

Thousands of civilians have fled rebel-held eastern Aleppo districts after a weekend of heavy fighting.

Hundreds of families have also been displaced within the besieged area.

Retaking the whole of Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, is a key aim of the Syrian government in its fight against rebels.

While it is very difficult to find out exactly what is happening in besieged eastern Aleppo, several key districts appear to have fallen to the government, leaving very little, if any, of the northern part of the rebel-held enclave still under the rebels’ control.

Scott Craig, the spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Syria, told the BBC that there were 250,000 people in need of assistance in eastern Aleppo, 100,000 of them children. Food supplies are gone, he said.

“The situation on the ground in eastern Aleppo is almost beyond the imagination of those of us who are not there,” Mr Craig said.

He said around 2,000 civilians had fled the fighting.

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State TV quoted a Syrian military source as saying that government forces “are continuing their advance in eastern neighbourhoods of Aleppo”.
“Our engineers are dismantling explosive devices and mines,” he added.

Rami Abdulrahman, director of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Reuters that the opposition had lost more than third of the area it controlled in Aleppo city during the recent advance.

The east of Aleppo has been held by rebel factions opposed to President Bashar al-Assad for the past four years.

In the past year, Syrian troops have broken the deadlock with the help of Iranian-backed militias and Russian air strikes.

Russia says its air force is active in other parts of the country, but not operating over Aleppo.

Seven-year-old Bana Alabed, who has gathered thousands of Twitter followers with her tweets from Aleppo, said on Sunday that her home in the east of the city had been bombed.

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On Monday morning, her account tweeted:
“Under heavy bombardments now. In between death and life now, please keep praying for us.”

Kurdish groups who control the Sheikh Maqsoud area of Aleppo provided images showing people fleeing the rebel-held neighbourhoods into the Kurdish-controlled district.

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This photo shows people crossing into a Kurdish-controlled area of Aleppo from rebel-held areas on Sunday

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This woman and her young child were among those fleeing to the Sheikh Maqsoud area

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Parts of eastern Aleppo have been in rebel hands for four years

Source: BBC News